Warren Buffett | Bill Gates | Lecture | University Of Washington | 1998 | Summary and Q&A

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November 11, 2020
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Warren Buffett | Bill Gates | Lecture | University Of Washington | 1998

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Summary

Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, two of the most successful business leaders, share their insights and experiences in a conversation with students. They discuss topics such as defining success, the role of innovation, the impact of technology, the importance of heroes/role models, giving back to society, and starting a new company.

Questions & Answers

Q: How do Warren Buffett and Bill Gates define success personally?

Warren Buffett finds happiness in doing what he loves every single day, surrounded by people he enjoys working with. He advises finding a job that you admire and brings you happiness. Bill Gates, on the other hand, defines success as enjoying what you do every day and working with smart people on new problems. He believes that success comes from magnifying brain power instead of muscle power.

Q: Who were the biggest role models for Warren Buffett and Bill Gates growing up and how did they contribute to their success?

Warren Buffett had great parents who were involved in interesting activities and discussed business, law, and politics with their children. He also admired his wife for her exceptional skills in dealing with people. Watching and learning from these role models influenced his success. Bill Gates mentioned his fascination with scientists who came up with new ideas, sparking his interest in technology. Both Buffett and Gates emphasize the importance of having heroes/role models, which can significantly impact one's success.

Q: What is the role of innovation in their respective businesses?

Warren Buffett's main role is to allocate capital and keep his team of managers motivated. He believes his job is not to innovate directly, but to support and enable his managers to innovate. Bill Gates, as the co-founder and CEO of Microsoft, acknowledges that innovation is a constant necessity in the technology industry. His focus is on staying on top of the latest technological advancements and ensuring that Microsoft adapts and innovates to navigate the twists and turns of the industry.

Q: How do Warren Buffett and Bill Gates approach giving back to their communities and encouraging others to do the same?

Both Buffett and Gates have a similar philosophy of giving back to society. They believe that the majority of their wealth should benefit society rather than being hoarded by individuals. Warren Buffett plans to donate 99% or more of his wealth, considering it a moral obligation to support a society that has treated him well. They both emphasize a meritocracy and believe that wealth should be earned through individual effort rather than through inheritance.

Q: How do Warren Buffett and Bill Gates view the impact of technology on businesses and industries globally?

Warren Buffett focuses on investing in businesses with predictable futures, avoiding the more unpredictable impact of technology. He believes in investing in businesses like Coca-Cola that are not heavily affected by technological advancements. Bill Gates, however, sees technology as a disruptive force that can revolutionize businesses. He acknowledges that technology companies are more prone to risks and changes but believes that the potential rewards can be substantial.

Q: How do Warren Buffett and Bill Gates approach the decision to start a new company?

Warren Buffett believes that starting a new company is not as risky as it may seem, especially when you are passionate about what you are doing. He advises considering the potential risks and rewards and finding a business where you can fully utilize your skills and passion. Bill Gates agrees that starting a company requires a lot of energy and determination. He suggests gaining experience by working for an established company to learn how things work before venturing out on your own.

Q: What do Warren Buffett and Bill Gates consider their best business decisions?

Warren Buffett believes that his best business decision was simply getting into the game and pursuing what he loves. Bill Gates considers starting Microsoft and believing in the potential of personal computers as his best decision. Both acknowledge that successful business decisions often involve taking risks and having a passion for what you do.

Q: How do Warren Buffett and Bill Gates view the opportunities and challenges of the information age globally?

Both Buffett and Gates see tremendous opportunities for growth and development in the information age. They acknowledge that developed countries, especially the United States, are in a favorable position to benefit from these advancements. However, they emphasize that developing countries, with a focus on education and technology adoption, can also benefit greatly and reduce the income gap. They believe that globalization and advancements in technology will create a more level playing field for individuals around the world.

Q: How do Warren Buffett and Bill Gates view the impact of technology on businesses and industries globally?

Warren Buffett focuses on investing in businesses with predictable futures, avoiding the more unpredictable impact of technology. He believes in investing in businesses like Coca-Cola that are not heavily affected by technological advancements. Bill Gates, however, sees technology as a disruptive force that can revolutionize businesses. He acknowledges that technology companies are more prone to risks and changes but believes that the potential rewards can be substantial.

Q: How do Warren Buffett and Bill Gates approach the decision to start a new company?

Warren Buffett believes that starting a new company is not as risky as it may seem, especially when you are passionate about what you are doing. He advises considering the potential risks and rewards and finding a business where you can fully utilize your skills and passion. Bill Gates agrees that starting a company requires a lot of energy and determination. He suggests gaining experience by working for an established company to learn how things work before venturing out on your own.

Takeaways

Warren Buffett and Bill Gates share valuable insights in this conversation. They emphasize the importance of happiness and passion in one's work. Both stress the role of heroes or role models in shaping success. They believe in giving back to society and the importance of a meritocracy. While Buffett focuses on investing in predictable businesses, Gates highlights the disruptive potential of technology. They both see opportunities for global growth in the information age but emphasize the need for developing countries to invest in education and technology adoption.

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